Quick Hands-On: Tiny11 – Thurrott.com

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Tiny11 is a new project that takes a standard Windows 11 install image and strips it down so that the system will run on lower-end PCs. The question here is whether this is a worthy pursuit: are there more important concerns with Windows 11 that such a project might address?
Of course there are, but Tiny11 is still interesting. It’s a version of Windows 11 Pro that’s been stripped down such that it takes up about 8 GB of disk space when installed vs. the normal 20+ GB. You can use it on supported PCs with as little as 2 GB of RAM.
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To heap on the complaints I’ve seen about Tiny11, I would rather see a version of Windows 11 without tracking, advertising, and crapware. And I will point out that bringing Windows 11 down to less-capable PCs seems unnecessary as it is already possible to bypass the Windows 11 hardware limitation blockers in Setup. And come on, no one should be running Windows 11 on a PC with 2 GB of RAM anyway. This is a 64-bit system, after all.
tiny11 setup
Tiny11 lets you install monthly security updates, I’m told but its makers say that it is not serviceable, which I took to mean that you can’t upgrade it to the next Windows 11 version or add other new features through Windows Update. Instead, you will have to wait for a new version of Tiny11 or manually track the release of new features and download and install the ones you want manually. (Minus actual Feature updates, which are version upgrades.)
But in practice, Windows Update doesn’t let you download updates that are clearly marked as security updates. And … woof. That’s gotta be job one.
tiny11 updates
That alone could make Tiny11 a non-starter for many, but there are other concerns. The most obvious being how on earth anyone could trust its makers to begin with: this isn’t Microsoft, after all, and even if there’s no malicious intent, it’s possible that the simple act of removing key parts of Windows will make the resulting system less secure. And while I’m sure many will knee-jerk celebrate that Tiny11 lets you sign in to Windows with a local account, I’m more concerned that that’s the only choice: local accounts are much less secure than Microsoft accounts, and it’s unclear why that choice was removed from Setup.
tiny11 local
Privacy is another concern: as noted, Tiny11 doesn’t do a thing to stop Windows 11 and Microsoft from tracking you—beyond removing Microsoft Edge, actually, more on that in a moment—and while some Setup screens have been removed, the privacy choice screen isn’t among them. You should still uncheck everything but location tracking.
tiny11 privacy
We should briefly discuss Microsoft Edge and, yes, Internet Explorer is missing too, robbing users of their only typical reason to use a Microsoft web browser: to install the browser they want to use instead. But anyone technical enough to think they need Tiny11 and then install it can figure out how to get a web browser installer on a Tiny11-based PC and go from there. (I guess. I wanted to install Brave to see how that went, but I used Tiny11 in a virtual machine and it couldn’t see my NAS, nor would Nearby Share work.)
I don’t know. Ultimately, Tiny11 appears to deliver on its central promise. It is indeed a smaller version of Windows 11 that requires fewer system resources than the original and offers fewer features. But I think it’s also missing the point. Yes, Windows 11 has egregious and arbitrary hardware requirements that leave out what is probably the biggest part of the upgrade pool. But that’s easily overcome, and there are bigger issues with Windows 11 that this release does not address at all. And that seems like a missed opportunity.
You can learn a bit more about Tiny11 in this YouTube video
Paul Thurrott is an award-winning technology journalist and blogger with over 20 years of industry experience and the author of over 25 books. He is the News Director for the Petri IT Knowledgebase, the major domo at Thurrott.com, and the co-host of three tech podcasts: Windows Weekly with Leo Laporte and Mary Jo Foley, What the Tech with Andrew Zarian, and First Ring Daily with Brad Sams. He was formerly the senior technology analyst at Windows IT Pro and the creator of the SuperSite for Windows.
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About the author

Julia Martin

Julia Martin

Julia is a mechanical engineer with a passion for cars. She covers everything related to automotive technology, from electric vehicles to autonomous driving. Julia loves to get under the hood of cars to understand how they work and is always excited about the future of automotive tech.